A Mini-manifesto on Aging

July 12, 2011 at 4:57 am (Uncategorized)

Disclaimer:  this isn’t a post about religion, and it’s only tangentially related to my kids, but I have to get something off my 36A chest.  So if you’re reading for my incredibly perceptive (though sparse) musings on the Catholic church, or my incredibly witty (though equally sparse) anecdotes about my kids, you can skip this one.  Or maybe also if you don’t like the word “boob.”

I turned 39 at the end of May, so if you’re my age or older you can perhaps understand where I’m going with this.  When I look in the mirror (and it’s funny, I can go for days seemingly without really seeing myself in the mirror…something my younger self would find unfathomable…) I see a few white hairs on my head.  They’re a different texture than the rest of my hair, and they kind of stick out like horns, which might or might not be a propos, depending on the day.  They’re super noticeable to me because of my dark hair, but my friends tell me I’m paranoid.  I see the beginnings of some pretty deep wrinkles between my eyes, the legacy of a couple of decades worth of an inability to hold on to a pair of sunglasses.  I see a lot of laugh lines, and some zits too, which seems unfair.

If I’m being really bold and looking at myself in my birthday suit, I see some pretty saggy boobs, thanks to three years of breast feeding.  Big deal, they were never that great to begin with.  I see a belly that has birthed three children.  I’m pretty fit, but I don’t think I can exercise that history away.  I see some varicose veins.  I see my dreadful feet.  Despite categorizing my flaws so brutally, all in all, I think I look pretty good.  My husband thinks so anyway.

This is what almost 40 looks like, at least on me, but when I’m watching TV or a movie, actresses that I know are my age or older don’t look like me.  They’ve had “work done.”  Their foreheads are perfectly smooth, their hair is perfectly coifed and never graying, their boobs are preternaturally perky.  Fine, I get it, these women are in a profession where their ability to get work is vitally connected to their looks (although presumably their employability is also vitally connected to their ability to change their expression, but that’s neither here nor there), but in our celebrity obsessed culture, we’re starting to believe that we should all look forever young…hence the Botox and the boob jobs and the rest of it.

I’m trying really hard to be less judgmental (unless you don’t use your turn signals, in which case I actually think you’re a bad person) but part of me really rebels against this quest for eternal youth.  I’m concerned what message it sends to our daughters.  I want my girls to be grateful for the miracles of their bodies, not worried about looking like they’re 20 or 25 or even 35 forever.  I have to share a little secret with you…no one gets out of this alive.  The lucky among us are going to get old…and wrinkly…and saggy…with aches and pains and all the challenges that aging brings.

So you know, you do whatever you want to do, but I’m drawing a line in the sand.  I’m not going to buy better boobs, I’m not going to inject this into my forehead and that into my lips and I’m not even going to dye my hair.  I don’t know if there is any such thing as “aging gracefully” but I’m going to…at the very least…admit that I’m aging.  I hope to do a lot more of it, in fact.



  1. Kelly Steinberg said,

    You most certainly can age gracefully and beautifully and naturally. I glanced in the mirror just the other day and noticed more and more grey hair jumping out, screaming at me. I was okay with it. Morris, not so much. But, he will be okay. I am glad you are drawing a line in the sand.

  2. Beadgirl said,

    Awesome. And I totally agree. When my very first gray hair showed up, all the way back in college, I vowed I would never dye my hair (despite various hair stylists who have argued otherwise).

    Of course, now I have a large clump of gray hair over my left temple, and I am increasingly looking like Polgara.

  3. Jean DeLauche said,

    Ahhhhhhh. . . I can’t get over laughing out loud at this essay. Go with the flow, as Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters used to say. You CAN consider your white hairs as “going platinum,” as I do. Anyway — I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your thoughts here. (Plus, I like reading about the kidz and the church and anything else.) Love you, too. – J

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